Parenting an Overly Competitive Child: Key Things To Know

Parenting an Overly Competitive Child: Key Things To Know

In general, children's competitive spirit is natural, and a friendly rivalry is a great way to keep things interesting. It provides meaningful challenges to help youngsters grow in important ways. However, there are cases where parents of an overly competitive youngster see indicators of behavioral and self-esteem problems. If your child's competitiveness has begun to impair their normal thoughts, feelings, and actions, you should be worried. Your child's drive to always "be the best" is probably a source of anxiety for you.


Why do some children develop unhealthy levels of rivalry? How can parents address excessive levels of competition and initiate programs that promote controlled actions? Here at Parental Mastery, we specialize in assisting families through these sorts of challenges. Let us learn how!


Fostering Healthy Competition: Nurturing Growth and Resilience in Kids


Little girl rising hands won trophy in karate


Some kids may be more competitive than others, and this inclination might develop early on. Children who show signs of competitiveness often thrive when encouraged to participate in sports they enjoy. This kind of thinking can improve athletic performance and encourage healthy competition.


There are a few distinguishing characteristics of healthy competitiveness among children. It's about helping a kid grow from setbacks rather than giving up. It's a method by which they take stock of their progress and celebrate their successes while pushing on toward even greater heights. Children who have a good sense of competition enjoy themselves regardless of the outcome. It teaches kids to work together and be friendly during games.


In addition, it teaches kids to take criticism in stride and use it to make themselves better. Importantly, it fosters compassion by teaching them to celebrate the successes of others as well as their own. 

Therefore, sports can be a great outlet for naturally competitive kids. While a healthy dose of competition is good for everybody, this drive must be directed in the right direction. By taking this course of action, competition is channeled into a positive growth and development tool rather than a source of stress and strain.


Spotting the Signs: Unhealthy Competition and Its Impact on Kids


Kid angry while playing video game


Some kids, despite their abilities, may have an unhealthy attitude toward rivalry. They may be extremely hard on themselves, allowing their low self-esteem to stem from the smallest of perceived flaws. They could feel bad about themselves and the team if they lose a game or don't perform as well as the other players. Such actions usually point to a deeper problem that goes beyond the sporting arena.


A child's unhealthy competitive behavior includes:

  • They are never satisfied with their accomplishments and want more and better all the time.
  • A tendency to downplay or even resent the successes of others.
  • Not having fun because one is taking the game or activity too seriously.
  • Acting badly in a competitive situation, such as by cheating, fighting, or having a temper tantrum.
  • Refusing to accept feedback because you either don't believe it or take it too personally.

It's important to remember that harmful levels of competition can be seen in many more settings outside of sports. It can surface in competitive academic settings, family rivalry, and extracurricular activities. The pressure to achieve better than others can seep into every aspect of the child's life, leading to stress and emotional discomfort if not addressed.


Understanding the Roots: Why Your Child May Be Overly Competitive


There is no manual for parenting, and no set of laws that must be followed, yet if we're being completely honest, it's clear that our actions as parents have a profound impact on our children's development. Moreover, effectively managing a demanding child involves setting boundaries, offering positive reinforcement, and understanding their unique needs. Everything we say, do, and think has a profound effect on our children as they develop, and we do this because we love them and want what is best for them. Wanting the best means seeking achievement, although the exact nature of that accomplishment is often unclear.


Children are pressured to attend elite schools, achieve top grades, and join elite sports teams so that they can have the best possible future. Similarly, we have altered our parenting styles, reduced our use of discipline, and strived to keep our children safe from damage and failure as a means of demonstrating our love and concern for them.

The media also plays a significant influence in shaping young minds; 'overnight success' tales and talent shows are examples of how the media may inspire an unhealthy fixation on success and the avoidance of failure.


Guiding Your Competitive Child: Balancing Passion and Perspective


Discovering your child's reading level can help you understand their intellectual strengths and might provide insight into their competitive nature. Here are some tips on how to best parent a competitive child without squelching their passion:


1. Appreciate their gifts and affirm their strengths: Every child is unique. Encourage them for the way they're made and wired. For instance, if your child excels in sports, highlight their great plays or how they were a good teammate after every game.

2. Help them channel their passion in the right direction and for the right things: Encourage your child not only for their achievements but also for how they contribute to their team. The goal isn't just about winning but using their gifts for the betterment of the team.

3. Encourage them to be a leader: They can teach a friend or younger sibling something about their areas of passion and zeal.

4. Provide opportunities to give them perspective: When things don't go as planned, provide perspective. Remind your child that a loss or a lower grade isn't the end of the world. Keep them aware of real-world challenges to help them gain perspective.

5. When their behavior and choices are destructive, call it out: Don't let them get away with bad behavior in the name of passion. If they behave poorly, they should face appropriate consequences.

6. Pull in other adults/leaders to help: Parenting doesn't need to be a solo activity. Seek input and wisdom from teachers, coaches, friends, and leaders at church.

7. Let them be humbled and lose: They can learn a lot from not winning or coming in the first place. Experiencing loss can help take the edge off of the competitive child and teach them humility.

8. Encourage them to try new things: This can help them discover new areas they excel or face new challenges. Challenges are a natural part of life for the competitive child, and often they thrive in overcoming them.

Finally, engage your kids in a conversation about their strengths and how they can use them to help others. This can help them understand the value of their skills beyond competition.

You may also likeSupporting Your Reassurance-Seeking Child - A Parent's Guide




To sum up, fostering a healthy competitive spirit in children is a delicate balance. It's about appreciating their unique strengths, guiding their passion constructively, and teaching them to handle setbacks gracefully. As parents, we must remember that our role isn't just to cheer from the sidelines, but to provide perspective, encourage humility, and instill values of teamwork and respect. By doing so, we can help our children harness their competitive nature in a positive way, setting them up for success in all aspects of life.

Popular Search Cloud

No keywords available

Follow Us
Related Articles